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Padraic Kenney
Director, Polish Studies Center

Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2011

IU's Polish Studies Center presents free concert honoring Polish music tradition

Feb. 2, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Last year, people all over the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of legendary Polish composer and pianist Frederic Chopin.

This Sunday, the Bloomington community will have the opportunity to celebrate the music of Chopin and several other important Polish composers in a free, open-to-the-public concert at 8 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 6) in Auer Hall. The concert is presented by Indiana University's Polish Studies Center and features Artists in Residence Michael Pecak, piano; Alyssa Cox, soprano; and Jinhee Han, cello.

Alyssa Cox

Alyssa Cox

This year's concert will be a study in contrasts: A polonaise and an etude by Chopin, songs by Karol Szymanowski and Witold Lutosawski and two works by Grazyna Bacewicz will express where Polish music has been -- and where it is going. The selected music is characterized by lyricism, rich harmonic vocabularies and instrumental color, and depth of expression.

The Polish musical tradition stretches far beyond Chopin's genius, said Halina Goldberg, associate professor of musicology at the Jacobs School of Music.

"In the 20th century, Poland was a key center of musical innovation," Goldberg said. "Many of the great composers of the modernist era, from Karol Szymanowski to Grazyna Bacewicz, lived and worked in Poland. They and others worked in the great tradition of Polish music while pushing beyond it, too, and their influence continues to be felt, just as does Chopin's."

Goldberg said Polish composers interacted with the musical aesthetics of the mainstream not only by following new trends but also by developing new musical vocabularies that were adopted by composers elsewhere.

"IU is home to one of the greatest schools of music in the United States, and one of the oldest and strongest programs in Polish Studies as well," said Padraic Kenney, IU professor of history and director of the Polish Studies Center.

Jinhee Han

Jinhee Han

The Artists in Residence program, begun with the assistance of IU's Office of the Vice President for International Affairs, allows the Polish Studies Center to present these strengths to the public, through concerts in Bloomington and elsewhere. The program aims to familiarize audiences with Polish music beyond Chopin and to give students of the Jacobs School of Music the opportunity to perform this rich repertoire in public.

"We hope that audiences who know music will learn about Poland, while those who know Poland will rediscover its music," Kenney said.

For more information about the Polish Studies Center's Artists in Residence, see in Residence.shtml.

Michael Pecak

Michael Pecak

About the Artists in Residence

A native of the Eastern Shore Maryland, soprano Alyssa Cox recently completed a five-year program with a Bachelor of Music in Voice and a Master of Music in Opera at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In Fall 2009, she began post-graduate studies at IU's Jacobs Schol of Music, where she studies with Carol Vaness. In 2009, Cox debuted at Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall, and at the Jumeirah Essex House with the Schuyler Foundation.

Jinhee Han is a cellist and a native of South Korea who was a principal cellist of the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra at IU under the batons of Leonard Slatkin, David Effron and Cliff Colnot. She has served as a collaborative cellist, a chamber music coach and a member of the festival orchestras for many summers at different music festivals. Han is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Music with Emilio Colon as his assistant instructor.

Michael Pecak, of Chicago, began playing the piano at the age of five. He has performed in numerous masterclasses with distinguished pianist-pedagogues and has performed to great acclaim in solo recitals as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright's "Unity Temple" Young Artists Series, "Parisian Salon Concerts" series and at the General Consulates of Poland and Japan.